Willis Bricks is a 70-year old family business. On-site brick production ceased in 2004. Extensive and costly damage to brickwork structures caused by urban salinity is a major factor behind Graeme Willis' intention to close the business. Rising salty groundwater is damaging kilns and undermining the brick-lined tunnels through which smoke passes. Another factor is increased competition from highly mechanised, multinational brick producers.
Urban salinisation has damaged many domestic and public brick buildings in Wagga Wagga. Bricks absorb salty groundwater. Walls and brick footings crumble as water evaporates and forming salt crystals push brick and mortar ingredients apart. At the Willis Bricks site repeated firing and cooling of kilns and brick tunnels has quickened the process of deterioration. The salt-affected and crumbled bricks at Willis Bricks demonstrates the destructive power of urban salinisation and its effects on people's lives.
Related Pass the Salt stories: Graeme Willis